FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – America’s cultural situation that is well summarized in Romans 1 should be answered by ministers with a Romans 12 ministry, President Adam W. Greenway said in his address to graduates of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Texas Baptist College during their May 6 commencement ceremony.
“You are being sent out into what many have regarded, and rightfully I think, as a Romans 1 world,” Greenway said to the spring 2022 graduates. “Where everything that is wrong is being declared to be right and what is right is declared to be wrong. …You look at what’s happening in terms of our broader socio, cultural, political agenda – it is a Romans 1 agenda.”
“May I submit to you, the only answer to meet a Romans 1 agenda is a Romans 12 ministry,” Greenway continued, noting a Romans 12 ministry includes living faithfully and fruitfully as followers of Christ and stewards of what He has entrusted.
The spring 2022 certificate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral graduates included men and women from Southwestern’s four graduate schools and TBC who represent 26 states and 19 countries, including the U.S. Of the 245 graduates, 158 attended the ceremony to receive their diplomas.
Before addressing the graduates, Greenway presented Mark E. Taylor, associate dean of the School of Theology and professor of New Testament, with the inaugural David S. and Lanese Dockery Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence. The award, established by Distinguished Professor of Theology David S. Dockery and his wife, honors the faculty member who exhibits faithful and effective teaching in the classroom and shows genuine demonstration of personal care and concern for the spiritual development of students in and out of the classroom.
“Dr. Taylor so well embodies in scholarship and in service the heartbeat of the faculty of Southwestern Seminary,” Greenway said of Taylor, who was elected to the seminary’s faculty in the fall of 1999.
In a “pastoral exhortation” from Romans 12, Greenway noted theological education has been made accessible and affordable for many due to online availability, but he warned graduates to guard against the “natural temptations that come from the pursuit of higher education.”
Recognizing obtaining higher education can lead to success by the world’s standards, Greenway noted in Romans 12 Paul gave “more attention to matters related to character than matters related to competency, capability or any other kind of human achievement.”
Greenway drew the attention of the audience to verse 3, where Paul told the believers in Rome not to think more highly of themselves than they ought.
“That’s a dangerous word to say at a commencement exercise, where we have people who are wearing all kinds of academic regalia, who have achieved undergraduate, graduate and professional and research doctoral degrees,” Greenway said. “If you think about the state of the global church, we are in a very privileged position in terms of what we have been able to deliver to you and what you have been able to receive. And if you are not careful, it can lead you to think of yourselves more highly than you ought.”
Greenway observed the “imagery” of the body used in Romans 12, recognizing Paul challenged against thinking some gifts were better than others.
“God in His economy gives each of us gifts, talents and what He expects from us,” Greenway said. “How dare I put the standard that God has placed upon my life in terms of the calling and the way He wants me to use my gifts and to say, ‘If you don’t do it exactly the way I do, then there’s something deficient or wrong in you.’”
Greenway reminded the graduates that as stewards of what God has “entrusted” to them, one day they will stand before God and give an account of themselves for what they did based upon God’s standards.
Noting Paul reminded the believers that love should be without hypocrisy, Greenway challenged the graduates to love fellow believers deeply and show honor to one another.
“Outdo one another in showing honor, not in having honor shown to you,” Greenway said, noting the example of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples the night before His crucifixion. “If it wasn’t too much for our Lord to do, then how could you or I ever think that is somehow beneath us?”
“You are those to whom much has been given,” he told the graduates. “You are those of whom much is required.
“For most of our watching world today, the only evidence or testimony as to what difference a Southwestern Seminary theological education makes is you. On behalf of all of us who are Southwesterners, may the Lord use you as an instrument in His hand through whom the love of Christ will show through, whom the life of Christ will be displayed through, whom the legacy of Christ will be magnified until Jesus comes again.”
The full ceremony can be viewed here.